I was reading yet another awesome Tildal answer, and this picture caught my eye:
Zenit-3SL carrying Atlantic Bird 7 lifts off from Odyssey platform (Source: The Way Up!)
It seems that launching a vehicle directly over water would have several benefits:
- You could launch from that 70% of the world that isn't solid land
- You don't need to build a launch site
- You just let the water take care of the cooling part
- You don't need to perform nearly as much maintenance on your 'launchpad' afterward.
It seems that one potential problem would be the stability of such a surface - but aren't rockets able to make corrections in-flight for being launch a degree or so off? You wouldn't launch during the yearly tsunami, of course.
So, why aren't sea launches used more often?